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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

74 Articles

Ken Lodge

Member since May 14, 2012

​I'm Ken Lodge and have been collecting playing cards since I was about eighteen months old (1945). I am also a trained academic, so I can observe and analyze reasonably well. I've applied these analytical techniques over a long period of time to the study of playing cards and have managed to assemble a large amount of information about them, especially those of the standard English pattern. Read more...

The latest articles from Ken Lodge

Collectors’ Playing Cards for Sale

Some more interesting playing cards for sale. • Mar 12, 2022


My wife and I have recently started to offer a holiday cottage for rent. • Feb 10, 2022

72: The Ace of Spades

In standard English packs the Ace of Spades is associated with decorative designs. This is a historical survey of why this should be. • Feb 06, 2022

71: Woodblock and stencil: the hearts

A presentation of the main characteristics of the wood-block courts of the heart suit. • Nov 02, 2019

70: Woodblock and stencil : the spade courts

This is a presentation in a more straightforward fashion of the work done by Paul Bostock and me in our book of the same name. • Nov 01, 2019

69: My Collection

This is an archive list of my collection. I hope it will be of use and interest to others. • Nov 01, 2019

68: Playing cards in glass

My wife and I have recently commissioned a unique pair of stained glass windows for our home. • Mar 28, 2019

67: Adverts and related material after 1900

The final page of material relating to playing cards from British periodicals. • Mar 27, 2019

66: Adverts and related material 1862-1900

Some further material relating to cards from nineteenth and twentieth century periodicals. • Mar 27, 2019

65: Adverts and related documents 1684-1877

Here are a few early advertisements relating to cards from newspapers 1684-1759 and a number of later 19th century documents of interest. • Mar 10, 2019

64: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 2

A continuation of the development of the off-spring of the Paris patterns and a few examples of how the French regional figures have inspired modern designers. • Feb 03, 2019

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right. • Jan 04, 2019

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France. • Dec 19, 2018

60: Some less common Goodall packs, 1875-95

There are some interesting packs from Goodall in the last quarter of the 19th century. • Jul 24, 2018

58: Woolley & Co.

The firm of Thomas Woolley lasted for many years from 1836-1904 in several different guises. • May 01, 2017

57: China 3

A third and final look at some Chinese cards. • Feb 09, 2017

56: Number cards and Chinese Crackers

A brief look at the number cards used in standard English packs. • Jan 23, 2017

55: China 2

Some further American designs used in China. • Jan 17, 2017

54: China 1

Although many people would not consider Chinese cards worth collecting, the huge variety of court designs used by the companies based in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan over the years should be of interest to those who like to enjoy variation in court cards, jokers and aces of spades. • Dec 30, 2016

53: Some recent acquisitions

The following items are a selection of what has come my way over the past two to three years. • Dec 13, 2016

52: The Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has always been a tax haven within the British Isles and it has also had some interesting packs of cards. • Nov 28, 2016

51: Some modern variation

A brief survey of some of the current variation in the standard English pattern. • Jun 22, 2016

50: Joseph Reynolds

A presentation of my database of Reynolds cards. • Jun 02, 2016

49: De La Rue in detail

A detailed presentation of the variants of De La Rue's standard cards. • May 31, 2016

48: Ferdinand Piatnik & Sons

Ferd. Piatnik produced a very large range of cards with many different standard and non-standard patterns. This is a survey of his standard English output. • Apr 11, 2016

47: Welch’s postcards and De La Rue’s redrawing

There are a number of court card designs that have never actually been produced as cards. It's a shame some of them never were. • Mar 01, 2016

46: Henry Hardy, Henry French & Christopher Groser

A brief look at some makers of whom we know little. • Mar 01, 2016

45: New Zealand

There are three main NZ makers that I'm aware of: A.D. Willis, John Dickinson, and Strong & Ready. • Mar 18, 2015

44: Australia

Two early makers, Thomas and Sands & McDougall, used courts copied from those of the New York Consolidated Card Co. • Mar 06, 2015

43: The United States Playing Card Co.

The United States Playing Card Co. (USPCC) represents an amalgamation of all the major American card-makers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries • Dec 22, 2014

42: Andrew Dougherty

Andrew Dougherty was one of the biggest American card-makers in the 19th century. • Jun 30, 2014

41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

Dating is a particularly tricky but very interesting problem to tackle and there are many pitfalls. • Jun 28, 2014

40: More on Design Copies and Fakes

The issue of design copies needs further consideration and when does a copy become a fake? • Jun 27, 2014

39: Mixed Packs

A number of mixed packs appear for sale from time to time, but it's important to sort out what is meant by the term mixed. It is an issue that is not as straightforward as it might seem. • Jun 26, 2014

38: Peter Gurney and Other 20th Century Minor Makers

Gurney was not the only printer who went briefly into the playing card business during the twentieth century. • Jun 25, 2014

37: Late 19th Century Card-Makers and Problem Cases

After the Old Frizzle period and the tax was reduced to 3d per pack, from 1862 onwards, a number of makers started up, who hadn't made cards before, although they were part of the paper and pasteboard industry. • Jan 03, 2014

36: Minor Makers of the 19th Century

In 19th century England there were a number of makers who produced cards in relatively small quantities. • Dec 20, 2013

35: More Design Copies

Here I want to take another widely copied design and see how individual variation by the copier can take the original design through a lot of changes. I shall take the three USPCC designs: US3 (wide), US3.1 (bridge) and US4 (wide). To the best of my knowledge these are no longer used in the US, exce... • Nov 17, 2013

34: Design Copies

Some copies of the designs of Goodall and the New York Consolidated Card Co. • Oct 10, 2013

33: Functional Changes to Playing Cards

The emphasis throughout my collecting has been on the design of the courts cards, and it should be pointed out that there have been some functional changes to cards, which have affected the traditional designs, especially in the 19th century. • Oct 09, 2013

32: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Part 3

A survey of the cards made by Creswick and Hardy, with a brief mention of De La Rue, Goodall and Reynolds. • Sep 06, 2013

31: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Part 2

This page continues the presentation of examples of the major English cardmakers of the 19th century. • Sep 05, 2013

30: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Gibson, Hunt & Bancks

A preliminary look at the card-makers operating in the 19th century. • Sep 04, 2013

29: James English

An overview of the courts and aces of spades produced by James English. • Aug 02, 2013

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

My interest in postage stamp variants led me to apply the same principles to playing cards. • Aug 01, 2013

27: Cards at Strangers’ Hall, Norwich

There is a very interesting collection of playing cards held at the Strangers' Hall Museum in Norwich. • Jun 25, 2013

26: Playing Cards: Rarity, Value, Dating, Sellers and eBay

Notions like rarity and monetary value are slippery customers and need careful handling. And there are still plenty of misleading descriptions on eBay - as well as looney prices! • Jun 13, 2013

25: More Standard European Cards

A further selection of European standard patterns including various redrawings. • Jun 06, 2013

24: The Fournier Museum Catalogue: Comments and Corrections

The Fournier catalogue is a very useful reference book, full of pictures of cards from all over the world, but especially Europe. Unfortunately, there are quite a few mistakes and unlikely assumptions in it. • Jan 25, 2013